Obtain departmental approval/support
Recruit organizers/helpers
Set a realistic date
Select speakers and lecture topics
Secure funding
Food
Clinical model workshop
Advertise your event
Collaborate with other schools
Reach out to existing conferences
The Day of
Biodesign 101
IR Symposium Survey

Obtain departmental approval/support

Find an IR attending physician that is a student advocate and enthusiastic about IR, such as your IRIG (Interventional Radiology Interest Group) advisor. Having supportive mentors from the department will be crucial in moving forward with your planning. Don’t be shy about asking for their help with securing speakers and funding. Provide them your goals for the symposium and ask for their support and blessing.

Recruit organizers/helpers

If your school already has an IRIG, this will be simple. Having a solid core of individuals, even just two or three, who are willing to put in the effort will be important when delegating responsibilities. Many symposiums may have attendings or residents take the lead in the organization process. This has been done at symposiums at USC and at the University of Pittsburgh. The majority of the symposiums, however, are almost entirely planned by medical students.

Set a realistic date; preferably 3-4 months in advance

Most symposiums take months to plan. Thus, pick a realistic date and start planning early. The general consensus amongst hosts polled was that mid-fall (September – November) was the ideal time to host a symposium. At that time, new first years are still very enthusiastic to learn about an unknown specialty (provided that the event is not the weekend prior to an exam) and second years have not entered the Step 1 studying period. Moreover, to maximize attendance from both speakers and attendees, most of the symposiums were held on Saturdays with great success. You may want to check with nearby institutions (if you are not collaborating with them) or under the MSC IR Symposia tab to make sure your dates do not overlap as many events occur in the fall.

Select speakers and lecture topics

Create a list of topics. Try and cover all the major IR subspecialties. At minimum, have a talk on the basics of IR, its past, present, and future. Most symposiums covered interventional oncology, peripheral vascular work, and embolic therapies (UFE, PAE, achieving hemostasis). Other options for talks include: pediatric IR, spine therapies, and training pathways. There also has been an increasing focus on diversity in IR. Some methods that schools have used are holding diversity and/or women in IR panels, ensuring that a diverse faculty was present, and advertising to underrepresented medical student groups.Once you have a list of topics, start contacting potential speakers. Many hosts agreed that this is where having a strong faculty advisor comes in handy. Have the faculty member talk to their colleagues to see who would be willing to present a small talk. Most speakers in the past were selected internally from the hosting school’s IR department. However, with the growth of regional symposia, this obviously has been changing to include a more diverse group of faculty speakers from multiple institutions.

Try to give your speakers specific information on timing, length of their presentation, and even format and depth. Ensure that some basics are covered with each talk, instead of just delving into details that will go over most first years’ heads.

Most symposia also include at least one panel with the program directors and residents/fellows. While these heavily Q&A sessions can be quite interactive and informative for the students, preparing some questions in case of a quiet crowd may be useful. Other panels include diversity and women in IR panels.

Secure funding

For most of the symposiums, a majority of the funding went towards food and snacks ,which depends heavily on the number of attendees. Simulation sessions tend to require minimal cost for some materials (e.g. cow livers, chicken breasts, JELL-O), but are largely covered by vendors bringing their equipment and hospitals donating expired material. Other areas of spending may include: flyers, name badges, tablecloths and linens, and gifts for the speakers.In the earlier 2015 edition of this cookbook, schools secured up to $2000 from their affiliated radiology departments. Some received a few hundred dollars from university sources (e.g. medical school senate), while others were able to receive local restaurant donations. These funds were used mainly for food, with the rest going to general supplies such as printing of pamphlets, pens, name badges, table linens.

Based on our more recent 2017 survey sent out to symposia hosts, the costs varied from anywhere between $0 to $3000. The source of funding also was variable, including school’s senate/education department, attendings, IR department of the host institution, and even local donations. Some schools (e.g. FIU in Miami, Florida) also worked with conferences that took on the cost of the symposium they organized together. For these opportunities, make sure to check that your school does not have any policies against being associated with third-party businesses.

Some symposia, to make sure they do not unintentionally spend money on no-shows and to ensure attendance, charged registration fees between 10 and 25 dollars that were refunded at the completion of the symposium. Many, if not most, did not charge fees or cap the number of attendees.

Other areas of possible spending include location rental fees (if not held at school or affiliated hospitals), faculty transport/housing for regional symposia, advertising flyers, etc. This is heavily school-dependent: some places will not allow school funding to go towards faculty expenses and other places may charge to rent school facilities. We recommend that you talk to the necessary people to figure out a rough budget before requesting funds.

A supportive faculty advisor can help tremendously by approaching potential funding entities within the department. It is our experience that most Radiology departments are willing to assist financially. Once you have determined how much funding is available, create a budget!

Food

Food is usually provided at symposiums to encourage attendance, especially since most run approximately 4-6 hours long. Food is also where most of your funding will go. Most of the symposiums provide a snack and a meal, such as a breakfast spread or light refreshments with lunch or dinner. Try to get a sense of the attendee’s dietary restrictions during the registrations (e.g. ask if they are vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, etc) – planning for special diets such may require more funding allotment. Don’t forget to have some extras for hungry faculty and vendors as well!Based on recent survey results, total cost per attendee was as high as $18-20 for programs that served lunch and another meal (breakfast, happy hour or snacks), and as low as $2 for breakfast only. Try to request funding keeping in mind that lunch alone may cost as much as $15. For groups on a budget, Emory recommended catering from a deli sandwich shop (e.g. Which Wich, Jimmy Johns, Subway), which cost less than $10 per person. Groups with bigger budgets were able to get everything catered in-house, which is more convenient but also more expensive. Some schools have had success by getting the food for free by piggybacking on to an existing conference. Try to figure out if your institution has special deals for student-run events – Brown has up to a 40% discount on catering prices provided that students organize the events.

Schools usually used mealtimes as an opportunity for attendees to network with attendings and residents. One option is to assign your speakers to different tables and allow students to join them to encourage this interaction. You might also consider having networking sessions with appetizers.

Clinical model workshop

Many symposiums had very successful hands-on simulation labs. Based on our latest 2017 survey, a typical symposium had four to ten different hands-on simulation stations for 1.5 – 3 hours. Corporate sponsors and company representatives (e.g. Cook, Terumo, Bard, Boston Scientific, etc.) provided most models and equipment for these stations, while some models were purchased or prepared by the students/physicians themselves (cow liver or chicken breast for ablation, biopsy models made from JELL-O, Metamucil and grapes). Often, attendings have clinically unusable (expired, otherwise opened, etc.) tools like catheters, stents, and filters in the hospital that they are able to bring and use.

Advertise your event

Don’t forget to start advertising your symposium as early as possible (as in months earlier), even if you don’t have all of the details set in stone yet.

Once you have a date and schedule set, start advertising to your home institution via emails, social media, your student affairs office, and in-class announcements. Don’t forget to reach out to students in other programs who might also be interested in attending (eg. PAs, radiology techs, undergrads)! Feel free to contact the SIR MSC at sir.students@gmail.com or SIR IRIG at sir.msc.irig@gmail.com to send out email blasts to members throughout the nation as well as post your event on our website (we would prefer a copy of the invitation, preferably in jpeg format). Other online platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Student Doctor Network may be good places to advertise your symposium.

Most of the symposiums also invited students from neighboring schools. Some contacted IRIG leaders while others emailed the administrators at these institutions. Consider copying a faculty member on the email to ensure it does not get ignored. Many set up their own websites (stand-alone or on the school/hospital’s domain) so attendees can read more about the symposium and RSVP online (example links: http://www.med.unc.edu/virig/symposium, http://brownvir.com/symposium-2017/).

Remember to send out reminder emails before the event! The percentage of people that RSVPed that actually attend may sometimes be as low as 60%, which is why some institutions charged registration fees that were returned only if students stayed for the duration of the event. Reminder emails and clear directions (to the facility, parking, registration time, etc) may also encourage attendance.

Collaborate with other schools

Reach out to the SIR Medical Student Council to obtain information on other institution’s IRIG Presidents or Advisors! Many schools are now involved in state and regional symposia: collaborating with other schools is a fantastic way to get your medical center on the radar and foster connections. It can also increase diversity in the attendees, faculty speakers and topics, as well as save funds when multiple groups contribute! In fact, in our latest survey, 80% of symposia were collaborations between 2 to 8 nearby institutions. Make sure you pick the schools to collaborate with carefully – the biggest factor involved in this may be the distance of the symposium from each of the institutions.

If the above steps are not feasible for any reason, reach out to existing conferences

If you are unsure if you can pull off an IR symposium by yourself, try looking around for an existing conference to piggyback on to.

For example, the organizers of the UCSF/Stanford Conference were able to jump on to the Global Embolization Symposium and Technologies (GEST) conference that was happening in San Francisco. They reached out to the director of the GEST conference through their advisor (another reason why it’s important to have a good attending advisor!) and received free registration codes for their attendees to watch the proceedings via webinar, and a room for IR meetings. FIU also collaborated with NCVH and their collaboration incurred no cost for either party.

By jumping onto an existing conference, you will not have to worry about a lot of the logistics such as venue and food. This might be a good alternative for schools that do not have a large IR department with enough IR attendings to speak, are unable to secure funding, or are otherwise unable to host a conference of their own.

Another alternative could be making use of the SIR MSC’s online lecture series, projecting them in a classroom and having a single attending or resident discuss the various topics available.

The Day of

Before the day of the symposium, make sure that all attendees (including faculty speakers and guests) have received the important logistical information such as the day’s schedule and parking information. If you are planning to provide name badges, make sure to bring blanks and markers. Consider having signs ready as needed by your location.

On the day of the event, try to assign different members of your group to specific roles. If you have a registration table, you may need a couple of members greeting students and faculty, giving out name tags, having the attendees sign in, and asking everyone to fill out the pre-symposium survey. Other basic event hosting skills would be useful (handing out programs, giving directions on where the restrooms and refreshments are, providing parking validations, etc). You may want a student member or a faculty member who is in charge of welcoming everyone on stage and introducing each speaker. Someone may need to welcome the vendors and help set up their stations in designated spaces, and others may need to receive food deliveries. Close communication between the team members the day of the event is crucial for an organized event!

Host Contact Information

Please contact us at sir.msc.irig@gmail.com.

Biodesign 101

One of the most unique and appealing aspects of interventional radiology to many students is the autonomy and creativity that clinicians are able to exercise in their practice. Many modified procedures and new devices aimed at improving procedures and patient care are being developed every day!

Biodesign is the multidisciplinary approach to solving these clinical problems. Specifically, the principles of engineering and design are utilized to solve clinical problems. For students particularly interested in incorporating a biodesign presentation / lecture in their medical student symposia, please contact sir.msc.biodesign@gmail.com.

IR Symposium Survey

With the advent of IR Residency, the Student and Resident Committee (SARC), Resident and Fellows Section (RFS), and Medical Student Council (MSC) within Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR) have been working to advance student awareness and educational opportunities in IR. We have developed pre- and post-symposium surveys that we ask you to distribute to your attendees. Our goal is to evaluate current student perspectives on IR and current opportunities available to students, for both curriculum development and research purposes.

We hope that you will participate in this nationwide worthy endeavor. Thank you for your commitment to increasing student awareness of interventional radiology, and for your continued efforts in IR education!

More information on these surveys can be found here